Tokyo Dine & Dash: Cafe N3331

I’ve dined in some far-out places in Tokyo, but few match lunch at Cafe N3331 in the Akihabara section of Tokyo. The cafe is situated on a platform that sits right between two JR commuter rail lines, and as you can see in the above video, the trains come and go with amazing regularity. It’s a really fun, different dining environment, and the constantly-passing trains give the scene a lively sense of motion and movement. And the show never ends, as trains going in both directions pass by seemingly every ten minutes (as trains in Tokyo are wont to do).

I was lucky to catch the vid above, as it was rare to see two lines pass by going in opposite directions. It was a little noisy as the two trains passed by, but it’s all part of the experience. Thankfully, thick glass walls that line the outside deck greatly reduce the noise. Also, surprisingly, the deck did not shake as the train zipped by, as I thought it might. Good foundation! It’s an open-air ceiling/roof, so  the place was cool on a hot day, but forget about outdoor dining when it rains. They also have indoor seating, but the experience isn’t nearly as impressive.

IMG_3200After going up a long staircase that showcases the building’s original brick and tile interior, you come upon the entrance to Cafe N3331. As you can see, it’s pretty narrow. Order at the counter where the guy in the baseball cap is standing, take a number, pick a table, sit back and enjoy the show. The staff brings your meal to you.

IMG_3186Lunch was decent and relaxing. It was around 3 o’clock in the afternoon, and we had already put in an action-packed, energetic day, and it was warm, so a quick rest, a small bite and cold drinks were just what we had in mind.

IMG_3180The Japanese, of course, love tea in all of it’s incarnations, so finding iced tea on a hot day is easy. Iced coffee is also popular.

IMG_3182Lunch is served: tuna sandwiches, creamy cold soup and a little salad: perfect!

All in all, lunch with drinks cost around 2000 yen, which translates to $16 in US dollars. The yen is weak these days, especially when compared with the strong US dollar, so things seemed relatively cheaper than in my previous trips. It also seemed that every retail store was “tax free”, or at least 30% off, making it a good time to go shopping in Tokyo!

IMG_3196Cafe N3331 also has a nice interior, which was perfectly air-conditioned for a warm day. It seemed as if this was a popular place for locals to meet for a chat over drinks.

_ASC3856Cafe N331 is found on the roof above this impressive brick building, which also houses Maach ecute, a collection of interesting retail spaces, galleries, restaurants, and cafes inside in a converted train station. In fact, it’s in one of Tokyo’s oldest train stations, called Manseibashi, brought back to life in 2013 after being out of use since 1943. Part of the original station platform can be seen on the second floor, and original staircases dating from 1912 and 1935 have been preserved.

_ASC3853The interior of Maach is really cool, almost like an optical illusion. As well as being a retail area focusing on handmade, artisan crafts, fashion, and interior design and home goods, the building also hosts live music events, artists workshops and food tastings. Maach has it’s own cool little cafe, a tad overpriced but with a dark, sexy ambience not unlike a jazz club.

Cafe N3331The above pic (courtesy of the cool website Designboom) gives a great view of Cafe N3331 and it’s vicinity. The stairway that leads up to Cafe N3331 is located on the side of the building opposite the waterway (which is the Kanda-gawa River, btw, one of many small rivers that cut through various parts of downtown Tokyo). I’ve indicated its location because it’s easy to pass it by. The sign for Cafe N3331 is inside the doors of the entrance and not on the outside, and we walked right past it a few times until we figured it out.

If you’re planning on visiting the popular Akihabara area, I highly recommend a visit to the Maatch ecute building and Cafe N3331. It’s a 4-minute walk from JR Akihabara Station or a 6-minute walk from JR Kanda Station/Ochanomizu Station on the JR Chuo Line. Look for the Big Apple Slot and Pachinko sign and you’re almost there.

IMG_3194Stroll along that side of the building while you’re there. There are a few cool wine/sake shops (offering samples!), Japanese and Western restaurants (mostly Italian, at least one Chinese), cafes, coffee roasters, and a clam ramen joint called Wheat and Olives that might have been amazing but we never found out as they we were closing just as we got there. Be aware that most of the these establishments close at 9 p.m. on weeknights, 8 o’clock p.m. on Sunday. The majority of businesses in this building are closed on Tuesday. Like almost all businesses in Tokyo, opening time is 11 a.m.

Of course, after visiting here, you’re literally steps from the heart of Akihabara, also known as Electric Town, one of Tokyo’s more colorful, fast-paced areas, and we’ll be going there in a future post!

About Stephen Kelly Creative

Hi, I'm Stephen Kelly, a writer, editor, photographer and graphic designer living in beautiful San Francisco, CA, USA. Amongst the things I love are writing, photography, movies, music, fitness, travel, Batman, all things Australian, food and fun, all of which I hope to reflect in this here blog. Welcome aboard ... now let's get busy!
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11 Responses to Tokyo Dine & Dash: Cafe N3331

  1. Another great post and more wonderful photos, Stephen! Thanks!

    • Thanks again, Victoria … hope you’re enjoying my travel blogs. My plan is to post once a week, focusing on different parts of Tokyo rather than do one, long summarizing blog. So far it’s been really fun and a nice way to share experiences and photographs. It also has my blog up and active again … at long last!
      I’m influenced by all the blogs I visited when researching my trip. I like how they get more in depth than tour books. Hopefully I can provide that same research help for people who are thinking about visiting Tokyo. I’ll probably expand this concept into San Francisco, too.

  2. kayrpea61 says:

    Yep, that’s my kind of place too, Stephen 😉

  3. pattimoed says:

    I love your travel blogs. Great insights and tips! Japan is on my very long to-see list, so I’ll refer to your posts when I go.

    • Hi Patti … apologies for my tardy reply. Thanks so much for the kind words … and for the positive motivation! I’m inspired by all of the great travel blogs I visited when researching my recent trip, and I want to emulate that, so your compliment tells me in heading in the right direction. I’m also planning on a similar format with San Francisco, a city I know very well. Cheers … and thanks!

  4. Pingback: Tokyo On The Go: Akihabara, aka “Electric Town” | Stephen Kelly Creative

  5. 2e0mca says:

    Trainspotter Heaven! We could do with a restaurant like this somewhere on the North London Line 😉

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